The first day of September and the passage of Tropical Rainstorm Ida overshadowed the photo finish for the hottest August on record in Berks County.
For the record, via simple calculation to one decimal place tabulating the daily highs and lows, last month will go down in the National Weather Service records as tied with August 1955 at 77.8 degrees for the hottest August in the 123-year Berks temperature database.
Jeffrey R. Stoudt, a retired meteorologist and founder of the Berks Area Rainfall Networks, said, “But we can ‘zoom in’ to see which was the slightly warmer.”
The tie swings in the direction of 1955 by looking at degree points, Stoudt said. Degree points are just each degree of the highs and lows.
“By adding all the daily maximum and minimum temperatures, for 1955 the sum came to 4,824 degree points. August 2021 had 4,821 degree points, which is three less,” Stoudt said. “Therefore 1955 has the edge. In terms of two-decimal-place accuracy, 1955 was 77.81 degrees and 2021 was 77.76.”
It was so close that on the final day last month, Tuesday, when the high was 82, just 3 more degrees would have been needed for the Augusts to be a dead heat, he said.
It came down to a matter of hours. Clouds thickened during the morning, capping the temperature at 82. A delay in the thickening of cloudiness might have resulted in a dead heat, Stoudt said.
A similar race for No. 1 occurred in 2015 and came down to the final afternoon when that February nosed out February 1979 for the coldest second month on record.
The hottest Augusts in Berks at official sites by average:
77.8°: 1955 and 2021
It’s a pretty tightly packed group.
But in most other months, the No. 1s are nearly always head-and-shoulders above the pack.
For example, to the warm side, January 1932, tops by 1.8 degrees, and December 2015, tops by 4.5. On the cold side, January 1977 by 3.9 degrees, and November 1976 by 2.6 degrees.
Stoudt said, “the warmest August appears to be the weakest warmest of the 12 calendar months.”
To be on par with other “leaders of the pack” the temperature would have to be about a degree warmer, in the ballpark of 78.8 degrees, he said.
Warmer than July
Julys are typically hotter than June and August by significant margins. The 10 hottest months on record in Berks are all Julys.
But, August 2021 averaged 1.2 degrees warmer than July 2021.
Stoudt crunched some numbers, finding that the most recent occurrence of a hotter August was in 2009, when August averaged 74.7 degrees, about normal, after a really cool July of 71.9, a margin of 2.8.
Stoudt’s research of the temperature database found that the only others with wide margins are:
2001: 71.4, 75.8 (4.4)
1978: 71.9, 74.9 (3.0)
1918: 73.6, 76.4 (2.8)
The Julys in 1978, 2001 and 2009 are among the five coolest Julys on record, so the about-face in Augusts was just a return to the normal range.
August 1918 contained what had been the hottest days on record in Berks before the 106 degrees recorded July 22, 2011. Those were 104- and 105-degree days early in August 1918.
2009 is the only year that there were no 90-degree days in June and July.
The National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, N.J., revised up the total accumulation for Tropical Rainstorm Ida at Reading Regional Airport.
The total for the storm was revised up Friday to 4.95 inches from 4.50. In either case, more than a September’s worth of rain on average fell on the first day.
It was unclear when there was an outage of the automated equipment that required human intervention or whether the meteorologists found the automated equipment lacking.
The increase made Wednesday the 12th rainiest day on record in the 152-year precipitation database, up from 16th with the adjustment.
August weather in Berks
90-degree days: 11 (Year: 34)
Mildest lows: 76 on the 18th (75, 1965); 76 on the 19th (74, 1937 and 2015)
Source: National Weather Service
Rainfall totals in inches from the Berks Area Rainfall Networks:
Vinemont (south), 12.27; Gouglersville, 12.06; Fritztown, 10.83; Mohnton (Northridge), 10.72; Vinemont (north), 10.69; Wernersville (north), 10.15; Wernersville (south), 9.65; Knauers and Mohnton (2), 9.55; New Morgan, 9.43; Mohnton (1), 9.42; Sinking Spring, 9.25; Frystown, 8.84; Cornwall Terrace, 8.82; Lincoln Park, 8.35; West Reading, 8.30; Midvale Manor, 8.08; Muhlenberg Park, 8.00; State Hill, 7.96; Adamstown, 7.95; Pine Grove, 7.80; Spring Ridge, 7.77; Robesonia, 7.74; Shillington, 7.66; Reading (northwest), 7.53; Bally, 7.46; Greenfields, 7.31; Wyomising (Highlands), 7.23; Scarlets Mill, 7.01; Cumru Township building, 6.72; Hopewell Park and Womelsdorf, 6.55; Pricetown, 6.36; Gilbertsville, 6.32; Bernville, 6.21; Boyers Junction, 6.18; Reading (Hillside), 6.16; South Mountain, 6.12; Bechtelsville, 6.07; and Shartlesville, 6.07.
There were another 16 stations under 6 inches, with the lowest monthly total in Shoemakersville at 3.60 inches.
— Reading Eagle
Source: Berkshire mont